Graduate College

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www.grad-college.iastate.edu/

David K. Holger, Dean
William R. Graves, Associate Dean
Craig Ogilvie, Assistant Dean

The Graduate College and graduate faculty at Iowa State University are responsible for the quality of graduate education, for administering students’ graduate programs, and for promoting research support from various governmental, industrial, and private agencies.

The graduate faculty in various programs handle admission and classification of graduate students, establish requirements for advanced degrees, and have charge of instruction and research at the graduate level. Graduate faculty members also teach graduate courses, serve on program of study (POS) committees, and direct work of master’s and doctoral students. All graduate courses offered for major or nonmajor credit are taught by graduate faculty members or graduate lecturers.

Graduate study was offered soon after the university was founded, and the first graduate degree was conferred in 1877. Experimentation and research also started early, first in agriculture and shortly thereafter in home economics, engineering, science, and veterinary medicine. In 1913, the graduate faculty was organized formally and an executive graduate committee was appointed. In 1915, the graduate faculty held its first meeting, and in 1916, it granted the first doctor of philosophy degree.

Graduate education is vital to the quality of university teaching. The creative efforts of graduate faculty members and graduate students result in knowledge necessary to help society solve problems in educational, scientific, technological, and socio-economic areas. The Graduate College encourages educational exchange and contact with undergraduate areas of the university to promote improved teaching on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. A part of this exchange is accomplished by the publication of books and technical articles which are made possible by graduate research.

The degrees master of arts, master of science, and doctor of philosophy are research oriented. In many fields master’s degrees are also awarded without a thesis, but a written report of independent study, called a creative component, is generally required. Coursework only degrees are available for those individuals interested in advanced study directed toward meeting vocational or professional objectives. Information on other types of Master’s degrees can be found in the Graduate College Handbook, Appendix E, (www.grad-college.iastate.edu/publications/gchandbook/homepage.html)

The Graduate College Handbook lists policies and procedures of the Graduate College. It is available at the Graduate College’s Web site: www.grad-college.iastate.edu/.

Graduate Appointments

Graduate assistantships, fellowships, and research grants have been established at Iowa State University to encourage graduate work and to promote research. Such appointments and research opportunities are available through the various departments of instruction and the research centers on campus.

Graduate assistantships, the most common form of graduate student support, are available in three categories: the research assistantship, the teaching assistantship, or the administrative assistantship. A half-time graduate assistantship (20 hours per week) permits the holder to enroll for a maximum of 12 semester credits. Recipients of these assistantships are assessed fees at full Iowa resident rates regardless of the number of credits for which they register. These students may also be eligible for tuition scholarship awards (50% of in-state tuition for most master’s students and 100% of in-state tuition for most Ph.D. students and certain terminal masters students). Students who are graduates of a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or of a recognized institution in another country whose requirements for the bachelor’s degree are substantially equivalent to those of Iowa State University, who are admitted in the full or provisional admissions status, and who present the requisite undergraduate or graduate preparation, may apply for these appointments.

Students registered on a restricted basis or those placed on academic probation are eligible for assistantship appointment only on a term by term basis but are not normally eligible for a graduate tuition scholarship. Students admitted as nondegree students are not eligible for assistantship appointments. Further information may be obtained by contacting the appropriate graduate program.

The satisfactory completion of one appointment, plus satisfactory academic performance, will ordinarily make a student eligible for reappointment. After a period of three years of full time study for the master’s degree or five years for the doctorate, the student will not normally be continued on assistantship support (shorter periods may be stipulated by the student’s program or department).

Postdoctoral Study

Opportunities are provided for postdoctoral study through the extensive research programs of the university. Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate program, institute, or to the Dean of the Graduate College.

Graduate Study by Staff Members

Any full-time member of the research, instructional, or extension staff at the rank of instructor, research associate, or assistant scientist may carry up to six course credits per semester and three credits per summer session, subject to the approval of the head of the program or section, and provided it does not interfere with other duties. This privilege may be extended to members of the research, instructional, or extension staffs at the rank of assistant professor with approval of the college dean and the Dean of the Graduate College. Staff members at the rank of professor or associate professor cannot become candidates for graduate degrees from ISU.

Distance Education

Iowa State offers many graduate degree and certificate programs off-campus. For a listing of the degree programs, registrations for courses, and more information about distance education, consult the Iowa State University Web site at http://www.distance.iastate.edu.

Other information about graduate requirements is available in the Graduate College Handbook at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/publications/gchandbook/homepage.html.

Doctoral Post Prelim (Continuous Registration)

Even when Ph.D. graduate students have completed course work and residency requirements, they are required to register and pay tuition and fees, whether or not university facilities and equipment are used or staff is consulted—either in person or in absentia.

After the preliminary oral examination is passed (with either full or conditional pass) and if university facilities, equipment, and staff time are used, the Ph.D. candidate must register for the appropriate number of credits in the major department or program and pay the appropriate graduate tuition and fees.

After the preliminary oral examination is passed (with either full or conditional pass) and if university facilities, equipment, and staff time are not used, the Ph.D. candidate may register for GR ST 680 Doctoral Post Prelim (Continuous) Registration and pay the Doctoral Post Prelim Registration fee.

The Ph.D. candidate must be aware that registration for Gr St 680 is allowed only after the Ph.D. candidate passes the preliminary oral examination; is required only in the fall and spring semesters, and not during the summer term; is not allowed after the completion of the final oral examination; and is not sufficient registration for the term the preliminary or final oral examination is taken; and does not defer student loans.

If students take the final examination during the interim between terms (including the first day of classes), registration can be for the term either before or after the examination is held.

Auditing

Audit registration means taking courses without receiving formal credit. Audit provisions are as follows: Instructors must approve ALL audits; students must register for audits by day 10 of the semester; changes to or from an audit must be made in the first 10 days of the semester; students are assessed tuition and fees as though they were taking the course for credit; and the course DOES NOT count in determining full-time student status.

Audited courses do not appear on the student’s permanent record unless the “Request for Audit(s) to Appear on Transcript” form is completed and signed by the student, course instructor, and major professor. Copies of this form, which are available from the Graduate College or from the Graduate College’s web site at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/forms/forms.html, must be filed with the Graduate College, 1137 Pearson Hall.

After the fifth class day, if a student changes a regular course to an audit, that course will appear on the student’s permanent record as a drop. Audits are not acceptable as registration for loan deferments or meeting visa requirements.

Graduate Courses Taken by Undergraduates

Certain graduate level courses listed in the ISU Catalog may be used in the program of study even though they were taken for graduate credit by the student as an undergraduate at Iowa State University.

The following conditions must be met:

  1. The POS committee can request approval from the Dean of the Graduate College that up to nine hours of such credit be applied toward meeting advanced degree requirements (these courses must be clearly marked on the POS).
  2. Credits earned in these courses must be in addition to those used to meet requirements for the bachelor’s degree and must have grades of B or better.
  3. The student must be classified as an undergraduate and not a nondegree undergraduate (credits taken as a nondegree undergraduate student are not allowed).
  4. The Graduation Office (10A Enrollment Services Center) should be contacted to determine that the courses were not taken as a nondegree undergraduate student, were not used toward fulfillment of the undergraduate degree program and were graded B or better. 

Courses Taken as a Nondegree Undergraduate Student

A person classified as a “nondegree undergraduate” student may not use courses taken under that status in a graduate degree program. A student who has received the baccalaureate degree must register as a graduate student if he/she is to receive graduate credit for courses.

Graduate Majors

A complete list of all graduate majors can be found on the Graduate College website, http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/academics/gradprograms/phd.php, with links to admission requirements and program websites. 

Admission

All degree-seeking graduate students must have graduated with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or from a recognized foreign institution where the requirements for the bachelor’s degree or its equivalent are similar to those at ISU. Additionally, each applicant must be accepted at ISU by the major program, the Office of Admissions, and the Graduate College. For information concerning graduate study in a particular academic discipline, prospective students should correspond with the chair of the major program in which they wish to study.

Iowa State University has a shared application process, which means certain items are sent (electronically or in print form) to the Office of Admissions and other items are sent to the graduate program to which the prospective student is applying. Detailed instructions are available at http://www.admissions.iastate.edu/graduate/index.php.  Students are also encouraged to check the Program Requirements Web page on the Graduate College Web site at http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/programs/APprograms.php for mailing instructions and deadlines for each program.

The nonrefundable application fee is $40 ($90 for international applicants). An electronic application is required to apply to ISU’s graduate programs; the form and necessary instructions are available at https://www.admissions.iastate.edu/apply/index.php. The application fee is required of all applicants except those who have attended Iowa State as undergraduates. Iowa State requires official academic records and statements of all degrees earned from all institutions attended since secondary school. Faxed, scanned, and notarized copies are not considered official.

Many programs have very early application deadlines. For more details, check program deadlines at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/programs/APprograms.php.

Categories of Graduate Admission

An applicant pursuing an advanced degree must be recommended by the program in which he/she will be pursuing an advanced degree and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College. There are three admission categories for students who wish to pursue an advanced degree:

Full Admission status may be granted to an applicant who either has achieved a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or greater (on a 4.0 scale).

Provisional admission status may be granted to applicants who meet the requirements for full admission but have academic or prerequisite deficiencies to remedy. Transfer from provisional admission to full admission status requires the completion of the graduate English requirement, completion of the coursework prescribed to remedy the background deficiencies with a grade average of B or better, and the written recommendation of the major professor and approval by the Dean of the Graduate College.

Restricted admission status may be granted to an applicant who does not satisfy the formal university requirements for full admission status and/or lacks undergraduate preparation in a field related to the graduate field of study. Restricted admission may also be granted to graduates of non-English-speaking foreign institutions, even if the student meets the university requirements for full admission status. Advancement from restricted to full admission status requires completion of 9 semester credits of graduate level course work as a graduate student with a cumulative grade average of B or better and satisfaction of the Graduate College English requirement. A recommendation is submitted in writing to the Graduate College by the major professor and must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College.

Nondegree Graduate Admission

Well-qualified applicants who do not intend to seek an advanced degree from Iowa State University may be considered for nondegree graduate admission. Such students usually include:

  1. Those who intend to transfer graduate credit earned at Iowa State University to other institutions.
  2. Those who intend to use graduate credits earned for professional certification.
  3. Those who enroll for personal satisfaction.
  4. Those who enroll occasionally in off-campus graduate courses. The nondegree application form is available from www.admissions.iastate.edu/nondegree/.

Applications and schedules for nondegree students are processed directly by the Office of Admissions and the Graduate College office; no program approvals are generally required, unless the non degree applicant has a very low GPA, then departments are contacted about what courses would be appropriate for the student to take. 

A nondegree student who subsequently seeks full, provisional, or restricted admission must apply to and be accepted by a graduate program and by the Graduate College for degree study. A new application, the regular application fee, and transcripts from all colleges attended are required.

For those students originally admitted to the Graduate College on a nondegree basis, no more than 9 semester hours of graduate credit earned under the nondegree option may be applied if the student later chooses to undertake a graduate degree program. The student’s program of study committee will recommend to the Graduate College which courses (if any) taken on a nondegree basis may be included in the degree program.

Graduate Admission of International Students

An applicant who is a graduate of a recognized foreign institution is subject to the same criteria for admission as a graduate from an institution in the United States and may be recommended for the same admission categories described above except that of the nondegree option. International applicants for nondegree status may be considered for admission at the discretion of the Graduate College dean. Application and admission deadlines for international students can be obtained from the Admissions web site at www.admissions.iastate.edu/apply/.

International students are required to show evidence of financial support and to carry adequate health and accident insurance while in residence.

Admission Examinations

Graduate Record Examination. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not a university-wide requirement for all applicants. However, many programs require or recommend submission of GRE scores; individual program statements at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/programs/APprograms.php should be consulted for this information.

Registration

Graduate students are encouraged to register for courses on the ISU web site (www.iastate.edu) via AccessPlus. Students who are unable or who choose not to register through this system may use a walk-through registration procedure. Students who do not register by the published deadline for initiation of a schedule through the AccessPlus systems must use the walk-through procedure. For complete information on registration, see the ISU Schedule of Classes or the Registration Web site at http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/students.

Credit Limits

Registration is limited to a maximum of 15 credits per semester. Schedules for graduate assistants on one-half time appointments are limited to a maximum of 12 credits. For full-time staff members, the limit is 6 credits. (Different credit limits apply during the summer session; see the Graduate College Handbook at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/handbook for more details.)

Interim Registration

Registration for special work between semesters and during certain vacation periods cannot exceed one credit for each week that the student is in residence. For more information, consult the Graduate College Handbook.

Grading

Grades are the permanent official record of a student’s academic performance. Iowa State uses A through F grading for most courses. S, P, and NP grades are given in some courses. The standard four-point scale is used to calculate a grade point average.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

All courses (even if they are undergraduate courses) taken as a graduate student will be calculated into the graduate GPA. The GPA is determined by dividing the number of grade points earned by the total number of ISU cumulative hours. The grade given when an incomplete (I) is resolved is figured into the cumulative grade point average, but not into a particular semester’s average. Marks of I, S, P, NP, T, and X are not counted in the grade point average; a mark of F (even if taken S/F) is counted in the grade point average. Creative Component/Research (599 and 699) credits are not used in the calculation of the GPA. In the case of repeated courses, only the grade achieved the last time the course is taken is used in computing the grade point average. (However, grades in courses that are noted as repeatable courses in the catalog, such as certain repeatable seminars, will all be used in calculating the grade point average.)

Grading Research and Creative Component Credits

Creative Component/Research credits may be graded as A, B, C, D, I, S, or F. Plus and minus grades are optional. These credits are not calculated in a student’s GPA.

Pass (P)/Not Pass (NP) Course Credit

Pass/Not Pass courses are those that a student, with the approval of the major professor, may take for personal enrichment, but not for satisfying prerequisites or deficiencies in the undergraduate background. P/NP marks may not be used in a POS, nor do P/NP marks contribute to the student’s GPA. Full credit for P/NP courses is used in calculating tuition assessment and credit load limitations. For more information, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Satisfactory/Fail (S/F) Grading

S/F grading is not the same as P/NP grading. S/F grading is by instructor option; all students in a particular course receive S/F grading. P/NP grading is generally a student option. A P mark is equivalent to at least a D- grade whereas an S mark is equivalent to at least a B grade at the graduate level. No special registration procedures are required for S/F grading. An S mark in a course taken S/F is not counted in the grade point average, but an F mark in a course taken S/F is counted in the grade point average and is equivalent to an F in a regularly graded (A-F) course. No more than 20 percent of the total credits (excluding creative component, thesis or dissertation research) in the program of study may be earned on an S/F basis.

S/F grading may be used only for approved courses offered as seminars, symposia, workshops, special topics, and research. Programs must submit requests for S/F grading to the Dean of the Graduate College. The Graduate College Curriculum and Catalog Committee reviews and approves or rejects all S/F courses.

Grievances about Grades

A graduate student who feels that a course grade has been unjustly assigned, and whose attempts to resolve the matter with the instructor have failed, may appeal through the grievance procedures described in the Graduate College Handbook.

Probation

If a graduate student does not maintain a cumulative 3.0 grade point average on all course work taken, exclusive of research credit, he or she may be placed on academic probation by the Dean of the Graduate College. Grades earned by graduate students in undergraduate courses are included in the calculation of the grade point average. Academic probation judgments are made on the basis of grades in course work only. New, first-term, degree seeking graduate students who fall below a 3.0 GPA at the end of their first semester will be given a one term grace period to bring their grades back to a 3.0 GPA. These students will receive a warning letter from the Graduate College.

While on academic probation a student will not be admitted to candidacy for a degree and if appointed to a graduate assistantship, the student will not receive a Graduate tuition scholarship unless approval is given by the student’s academic college. If a student is to qualify for a tuition scholarship, he/she must be removed from probation by the tenth class day of the term.

To insure that registration does not take place without a review by the program, the Graduate College places a hold on future registrations by a student on probation. Before the student registers for each term, the program must review his or her record and recommend in writing if the Graduate College should permit further registration. Before graduation is approved, the student must complete all courses listed on the program of study with a minimum grade of C and have achieved a 3.0 GPA or greater.

English Requirements for Non-native Speakers

Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not earned a bachelor’s or master’s in a country where the only official language is English are required to submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores as part of the admission process. A minimum score of at least 79 on the TOEFL internet-based test or 550 on the paper-based test is required by the Graduate College. International students may also submit IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores in lieu of the TOEFL. The ISU Graduate College minimum is 6.5. Because many programs require higher TOEFL and/or IELTS scores, applicants should check directly with the program to which they desire admission or browse the Graduate College Web site at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/programs/APprograms.php.

Graduate students whose native language is not English and who did not graduate from a U.S. institution must take an English Placement Test at the beginning of their first semester of enrollment. This test is administered by the Department of English. A student who does not pass this examination is assigned to one or more courses in the English 99 and 101 series. This course work must be completed during the first year of study . (There is a developmental course fee for the English 99 course.). Non-native English speaking ISU graduate students who meet or exceed the TOEFL scores (640 or above on the paper-based test or 105 on the internet-based test) are exempted from taking the Enlish Placement Test. (Self-enrollment in English 099 or 101 courses remains possible.

A graduate student whose native language is not English but did graduate from a U.S. institution, may bring to the Graduate College the “Request for the Graduate College to Approve the Graduate English Requirement for a Student Whose Native Language is NOT English” form, available from the Graduate College or on the Graduate College’s Web site at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/student_forms.php. Two conditions must be met: the student must have received a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D degree from a U.S. college or university and the language of instruction at that college or university must have been in English.

New teaching assistants whose native language is not English are evaluated for their ability to communicate effectively in English before their assistantship assignments are made. The Oral English Certification Tests (OECT) are given before the beginning of each semester. The testing dates are announced on the International Teaching Assistants (ITA) program website.  Registration for the test is held on line through links posted on the ITA program homepage, http://www.grad-college.iastate./speakteach/, two to three weeks before the test is administered. TAs and faculty with questions about OECT testing should call 515-294-1958 or 515-294-7996. A prospective teaching assistant who does not pass these tests is required to successfully complete course work and be retested. English 180 is a series of communication courses designed to help new teaching assistants. Students focus upon pronunciation, listening, question-handling, teaching and lecturing skills, and analyze the culture of U.S. university life. Because enrollment is restricted, TAs cannot register for the courses online through AccessPlus. TAs must go to the ITA Office,1137 Pearson immediately after they receive the test scores to obtain permission to enter the course by completing a course add slip.

Department/Program Change

Transferring from One Major/Program/Department to Another

Students who have been admitted to a graduate program and to the Graduate College may request to transfer at a later date to another department or program. Because graduate students are admitted to particular programs, transfers require the approval of both the receiving program and the Graduate College.

Students seeking transfer to another program or department should first discuss their wishes with the new program DOGE (Director of Graduate Education) to determine requirements and interest by the new program. When a student receives a favorable preliminary response from the new program, he or she should fill out the student portion of the form entitled “Request to Transfer from One/Major/Program/Department to Another” and submit this form to his or her current DOGE. The current DOGE will fill out the Current Program Information adding any comments he or she believes the new program should consider and forward the form to the proposed new program. This form is available from the department, the Graduate College, or the Graduate College web page.

The receiving program will generally give the student the same consideration and employ the same admissions standards that are used for original applications for admission and will expect the same application materials (transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, etc). During the process, the new and old programs and the Graduate College are authorized and encouraged to seek and disclose information related to the student’s overall fitness for studies in the receiving program. Programs are authorized to inquire into the student’s prior conduct at the university, both with the prior department and with the Dean of Students.

Upon departmental action (acceptance or denial), the request to transfer form must be sent to the Graduate College for approval. All parties will receive a copy of the completed form from the Graduate College.

Students desiring to transfer from a degree-seeking status to a nondegree-seeking status need to fill out the “Request to Transfer from One Major/Program/Department to Nondegree” form and bring it to the Graduate College.

Students desiring to transfer from nondegree-seeking status to a degree-seeking status must be admitted by a program through the regular graduate admission process.

Curriculum Change from Active Graduate to Active Undergraduate Status

Individuals who are in good standing in the Graduate College and who wish to transfer to an undergraduate curriculum must contact the graduate classification officer (1137 Pearson Hall). The classification officer will consult with the student and determine the proper course of action.

Curriculum Change from Inactive Graduate to Active Undergraduate Status

Individuals who were admitted to the Graduate College more than one year previous and who do not have active graduate status but who wish to change their status from inactive graduate to active undergraduate, must follow the same procedures required of reentering undergraduate students and must begin the process by filing a completed “Undergraduate Reentry” form with the Office of the Registrar. When considering reinstatement, the undergraduate college may consider the student’s overall fitness for continued studies including information about the student’s conduct, employment and education since the student’s last enrollment.

Individuals who do not have active graduate status and who first enrolled less than one year previous should first see the classification officer in the Graduate College.

Time Limits. It is expected that work for the master’s degree shall be completed within five years. In special circumstances the student’s POS committee may recommend that the Dean of the Graduate College extend these degree time limits. Cases in which the student leaves Iowa State during his or her graduate career and later returns are dealt with individually by the student’s POS committee and the Graduate College. The inclusion in the student’s program of study of course work that is beyond the time limits (“over-age” courses) must be justified by the POS committee in a statement accompanying the submission of the program of study.

Application for Graduation. Students planning to graduate must complete an “Application for Graduation” form through their online AccessPlus system by the end of the third week of the semester (fall or spring) in which he/she expects to receive the degree, or by the last day of spring semester when wishing to graduate during summer.

Before completing this form, a student must have submitted and had approved by the Graduate College a “Recommendation for Committee Appointment” form and a “Program of Study” form. Also the student must have been fully admitted to a program and have met the Graduate English requirement if he/she is a non-native English speaker. Graduation may be delayed if the “Application for Graduation” form filing deadline is not met. If it becomes apparent that a student cannot graduate during the indicated term, he/she can go online through AccessPlus and cancel the previously submitted “Application for Graduation” form by the designated deadline. The student must then complete a new form for the next planned term of graduation.

Thesis. A master’s thesis is a scholarly composition that demonstrates the ability of the author to do independent and creative work. A thesis is required in all fields in which a master’s degree is awarded, except where specific provision is made for a nonthesis degree program. A minimum of three research credits is required on every program of study for a thesis master’s degree.

Responsibility for writing and editing of the thesis rests with the student, under the supervision of the major professor, and not with the Graduate College. The Graduate College does not permit joint authorship of theses. It is the responsibility of the major professor to supervise the preparation of preliminary and final drafts of the thesis to assure the highest level of quality when the student presents the thesis to the committee for final approval.

Copies of the thesis must be submitted to the members of the POS committee at least two weeks before the final oral examination.

All theses and dissertations will be submitted electronically after the final oral examination is held. Please browse the Graduate College’s web site (http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/current/thesis for requirements, revised fees, and other pertinent information.

Shortly after the submission of the “Application for Graduation” form, a one-time, nonrefundable thesis fee is billed by the university accounting system. In addition, a graduation fee will be assessed by the Registrar’s Office. This fee is nonrefundable if a student does not cancel his/her graduation by the Graduate College’s cancellation deadline.

Creative Component. Most nonthesis students must present substantial evidence of individual accomplishment (e.g., a special report, capstone course, integrated field experience, annotated bibliography, research project, design, or other creative endeavor). A minimum of two credits of such independent work is required on those programs of study for a nonthesis master’s degree. Some programs require more credits. (For more information, contact the individual program or consult the Specific Master’s Degrees section in this catalog.) The element of creative independent study must be explicitly identified on the program of study. The format of the creative component is determined in cooperation with the POS committee. As with a thesis, a creative component should be submitted to members of the POS committee two weeks before the final oral examination. However, no final submission of a creative component is turned in to the Graduate College for review and approval.

Final Oral Examination. Most master’s candidates must pass final oral examinations. The final oral examination must be held by the final examination deadline date for the semester in which the degree is granted. All coursework in the program of study must either be completed or in progress before the final examination can be scheduled. This examination is oral; it may also include a written component if specified by the student’s (POS) committee.

Graduate students must register at Iowa State for the equivalent of two credits, or for the R-credit course if no course work is needed, during the semester in which the final examination is taken. (Graduate students who are not required to take a final oral examination should complete all required coursework on the POS prior to or during the term of graduation. Any transfer credits must be completed the term before the graduation term and follow normal transfer rules.) Taking only an R-credit course where the fee is not equivalent to the 2-credit minimum charge is not acceptable for the term of the final oral examination. If the examination is taken during the interim between terms (including the first day of classes), registration can be for either the term before or the term after the examination is held.

The candidate is responsible for initiating the “Request for Final Oral Examination” form, which must be submitted to the Graduate College at least three weeks before the examination. This form can be obtained only from the student’s program/department. The entire POS committee must be convened for the final oral examination. For more information on the final oral examination, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Graduate Student Approval Slip for Graduation. Every candidate for an advanced degree is required to complete a “Graduate Student Approval Slip for Graduation” form. It is sent to the major professor or program to give to the student after the “Request for Final Examination” form is received and approved by the Graduate College. Signatures are required by the major program, the Graduate College Thesis specialist (for those completing a thesis), and the Graduate College. Final clearance of academic requirements will be made when current term grades have been submitted and evaluated by the Graduate College.

All incompletes from previous terms must be completed by the deadline for completion of the Graduate Student Approval Slip. An incomplete or non-report grade that a student receives for the term of graduation will result in removal from that term’s graduation list. The student will need to complete a new Application for Graduation and Graduate Student Approval Slip for the new term of graduation. If a conditional pass was recommended at the final oral examination, the major professor and the committee members, if so specified, must notify the Graduate College in writing no later than the due date for the Graduate Student Approval Slip for the term of graduation that the conditions have been met.

Undergraduate Admission to Concurrent Graduate Degree/Certificate Programs

Several programs provide opportunities for qualified ISU juniors and seniors majoring in those curricula to apply for admission to both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

The graduate degree will be awarded only at the same time as, or after, the undergraduate degree is conferred. For a complete listing of the concurrent degree programs, consult the Graduate College Handbook, "Concurrent Degree Programs" on page 27 of the Handbook, http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/handbook/.

Students interested in a research career may apply for graduate research assistantships during their last two years of study. Students should contact the graduate programs about applying early in their undergraduate careers. Undergraduate students seeking admission to concurrent graduate degree programs in field other than these, plus any student with an interdepartmental major, must submit the appropriate concurrent form completed and a written proposal for an individualized program, co-signed by their advisers, to the Graduate College for review and approval. For more information about the application process and transferring credits, consult the Graduate College Handbook.

Veterinary Medicine Students in Concurrent Graduate Degree/Certificate Programs

Students may be concurrently enrolled in the professional curriculum leading to the D.V.M. degree and in a graduate program leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree after completion of 90 semester credits. The graduate program may be in the College of Veterinary Medicine or in another college.

Interested students must adhere to the following process:

  • Complete a "Concurrent Enrollment for Graduate/Veterinary Medicine Degrees" form available on the web site at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php.  This is a combination application/concurrent form.
  • Submit the "Concurrent Enrollment Request" form to the Graduate College after appropriate signatures are obtained.

Signed approvals on the concurrent form are required from the graduate program, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. On admittance, the student receives an admission notification from the Office of Admissions. For more information see the Graduate College Handbook.

Graduate Students in Concurrent Undergraduate Programs

Graduate students interested in enrolling in a concurrent undergraduate program should contact the Office of Admissions (100 Enrollment Services Center) to obtain admission information (even if the student has been previously admitted as an undergraduate). An “Application for Graduate Student Wishing to Pursue a Concurrent Undergraduate Degree” form should be obtained from the Graduate College Web site at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/forms/index.php and circulated for the appropriate approvals. 

  • Official enrollment and fee payment will be as a graduate student.
  • The graduate degree or graduate certificate will be awarded only at the same time as, or after, the undergraduate degree is conferred.
  • Students interested in a research career may be able to apply for a graduate research assistantship while in a concurrent degree or graduate certificate program.
  • Students in concurrent degree programs may, subject ot Program of Study Committee approval, double count up to 6 ISU credits of major or nonmajor graduate credits courses for both a Bachelor's degree and a certificate or a Master's degree.
  • For students pursuing a concurrent undergraduate bachelor's degree and a graduate certificate, at least 12 graduate credits cannot be double counted and a maximum of 6 graduate credits can be double counted for both the bachelor's degree and the graduate certificate (when the graduate certificate requires more than 12 credits.  
  • A student in a bachelor's and master's concurrent degree program cannot be on a Ph.D. track during the concurrent program.

A complete list of Concurrent Bachelor and Master Programs or Graduate Certificate Programs can be found in the Graduate College Handbook, pages 30-31.  http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/handbook

Master’s Degrees

General requirements for all master’s degrees are as follows:

General Requirements

The Graduate College Handbook outlines the general requirements for completion of a graduate degree at ISU. Faculty in a major field have the responsibility for establishing educational objectives for their graduate program, including specific course requirements and research requirements appropriate to the master’s programs in the major. These requirements may place additional responsibilities on the student, the major professor, or the student’s program of study (POS) committee beyond those listed in the Graduate College Handbook as deemed appropriate to the goals of the major program.

Faculty and graduate students are active participants in the academic programs of Iowa State University. As active participants, they have a collective impact on the success of those programs and of the university in fulfilling its mission. Each graduate program is encouraged to implement a mechanism for responding to feedback from graduate students as a valuable resource for continuing improvement.

Appointment of the Student’s Program of Study (POS) Committee

New graduate students at ISU may be assigned a temporary academic adviser by the major program in the first semester of the student’s residence. This faculty member guides the student in selection of a field of study and in development of a graduate program of study until the major professor and POS committee are selected. After the POS committee has been selected, it guides and evaluates the student during the remainder of graduate study.

A thesis master’s POS committee consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty. It must include two members, including the major professor, from the major or program. The committee must include member(s) from different fields of emphasis so as to ensure diversity of perspectives. A term member of the graduate faculty may participate in the direction of a student’s master’s research as a co-major professor if a member of the graduate faculty serves as a co-major professor and jointly accepts responsibility for the direction of a program of study. A non-thesis master's degree needs a minimum of one committee member.  Programs may establish requirements for more than one member.  For more information on duties and makeup of the committee as well as changes to the committee makeup, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Program of Study.  The student and major professor develop the program of study with the consultation and approval of the POS committee. This agreement between the student and the Graduate College should be submitted as early as possible for approval. It is recommended that the committee be formed and the POS form submitted as early as the second semester of graduate study. In no case can the committee and program of study be formed later than the term before the preliminary oral exam for Ph.D students, and the final oral examination for master's students.

Residency. There is no on-campus residency requirement for the master’s degree.

Credits. Unless otherwise noted, at least 30 credits of acceptable graduate work must be completed in all master’s programs. At least 22 graduate credits must be earned from Iowa State University. 

Transfer Credits. At the discretion of the POS committee, and with the approval of the program and the Graduate College, graduate credits earned as a graduate student at another institution or through a distance education program offered by another institution may be transferred if the grade was B or better. Such courses must have been acceptable toward an advanced degree at that institution and must have been taught by individuals having graduate faculty status at the institution. If a student wishes to transfer credits from graduate courses taken at or through another university as an undergraduate student, it is the student’s responsibility to provide verification by letter from that institution that these graduate courses were not used to satisfy undergraduate requirements for a degree.

A transcript must accompany the POS in order to transfer credits. The POS committee may ask for other materials, such as a course outline or accreditation of the institution, to evaluate the course. Transfer courses not completed when the POS is submitted must be completed the term before the student graduates. A transcript must then be submitted for review and final approval.

Research credits earned at another institution are generally not transferred. In rare circumstances, the transfer of S or P marks may be accepted for research credits only. It is the responsibility of the POS committee to obtain a letter from the responsible faculty member at the other institution stating that research credits recommended for transfer with S or P marks are considered to be worthy of a B grade or better. Audits may be listed on the program of study, but do not carry credit.

Major. A major is an approved area of study leading to a graduate degree. The exact number of credits in a major is not prescribed.

Minor. Students may request a minor in any program approved to grant a graduate degree and in programs approved to offer only a minor. A student may not minor and major in the same field. Requirements for declared minors are determined by the minor program and the faculty member representing the minor field on the student’s POS committee.

The minor subject area must be tested at the final oral examination and cannot be placed on the transcript after graduation unless it was approved on the program of study, listed on all examination reports, and recorded on the “Application for Graduation” form (diploma slip). A minor cannot be added to a degree that has already been received.

Specific Master’s Degrees

The number of credits in a major for a master’s degree will vary according to various degrees . General credit requirements for all master’s degrees include: a minimum of 30 graduate credits is required for all master’s programs at ISU; at least 22 graduate credits must be earned at ISU; any transfer of graduate credits from another institution must be recommended in the program of study by the POS committee; and graduate credit earned as a graduate student will be approved for transfer only if a B grade or better was earned. A transcript must accompany the POS form.  A complete listing of specific master's degrees can be found in the Graduate Handbook, section E, page 107, http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/common/handbook/.  A complete listing of all master's degrees can also be found online, http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/academics/gradprograms/index.php.   

Master’s Double Degree Programs

A double degree requires fulfillment of the requirements for two graduate majors for which two differently named master’s degrees and two diplomas are granted at the same time. For double degrees the final project (thesis or creative component) must integrate subject areas from both departments. One final oral examination must be held covering the combined thesis or creative component. Students planning to pursue double degrees must complete a double degree request form and submit it to the Dean of Graduate College for approval. Just one “Recommendation for Committee Appointment” form and one “Program of Study (POS)” form need to be submitted for the two degrees. However, two “Application for Graduation” forms, one for each degree, will need to be submitted. All forms should show clearly that the student is enrolled in a double-degree program.

Like other master’s programs, three graduate faculty members can constitute a POS committee; however, POS committees for double degrees must include co-major professors from each of the majors. Although specific degree programs may require more, the program of study must include at least 44 hours of non-overlapping credit (22 for each major) in the two degrees.

A complete listing of the Double Degree Programs can be found in the Graduate College Handbook, page 35, http://www.xgrad-college.iastate.edu/common/handbook/.

If a student outside one of the named areas is interested in an individually-developed double degree program, a written proposal for a double degree to serve those interests and needs must be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate College for review. See the Graduate College Handbook for more information.

Drake University Law School/Iowa State University Combined Degree

To provide training in the complementary fields of law, political science, and economics with a minimum amount of academic duplication, special arrangements for combined degree programs have been approved with the Drake University Law School. ISU and Drake offer a combined J.D.-M.A. in political science and J.D.-Ph.D. in economics. Drake Law School students are permitted to transfer the equivalent of nine semester credits of specified law courses to ISU for nonmajor graduate credit. Because of the difference in grading systems, the Law School grades are transferred as passes, provided the student has achieved a grade of C or better in those courses at Drake for the political science program or a grade of B or better for the economics program.

Applicants for either of the combined programs must meet the regular entrance requirements of, and be admitted to, both the Drake Law School and the ISU Graduate College.

Doctor of Philosophy

General Requirements

The degree doctor of philosophy is strongly research oriented. The primary requirements for the degree are:

  • high attainment and proficiency of the candidate in his or her chosen field
  • development of a dissertation which is a significant contribution to knowledge and which shows independent and creative thought and work
  • successful passing of detailed examinations over the field of the candidate’s major work, with a satisfactory showing of preparation in related courses. General requirements for Ph.D. candidates follow.

The Graduate College Handbook outlines the general requirements for completion of a graduate degree at ISU. Faculty in a major field have the responsibility for establishing educational objectives for their graduate program, including specific course requirements and research requirements appropriate to the master’s or Ph.D. programs in the major. These requirements may place additional responsibilities on the student, the major professor, or the student’s program of study (POS) committee beyond those listed in the Graduate College Handbook as deemed appropriate to the goals fo the major program.

Faculty and graduate students are active participants in the academic programs of Iowa State University. As active participants, they have a collective impact on the success of those programs and of the university in fulfilling its mission. Each graduate program is encouraged to implement a mechanism for responding to feedback from graduate students as a valuable resource for continuing improvement.

Appointment of the Student’s Program of Study (POS) Committee

The POS committee for a doctoral program consists of at least five members of the graduate faculty. It must include at least three members, including the major professor, from within the student’s major or program. The committee must include member(s) from different fields of emphasis so as to ensure diversity of perspectives. A term member of the graduate faculty may participate in the direction of a student’s dissertation research as a co-major professor if a member of the graduate faculty serves as a co-major professor and jointly accepts responsibility for direction of the dissertation.

Changes to POS committee

Recommendations for changes in the POS committee must have the approval of the student, major professor, DOGE, and all committee members involved in the change (committee members who are on Faculty Professional Development Assignments, retired, or resigned do not have to sign) before seeking approval of the Graduate College. A form to seek approval is available in program offices or on the web at www.grad-college.iastate.edu/forms/forms.html. These changes must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate College before the preliminary or final oral examination is held. For more information on changes to the committee and to the Program of Study, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Program of Study

The student and the major professor develop the program of study with the consultation and approval of the POS committee. Early selection of a major professor, appointment of a POS committee, and development of a program of study are very important. It is recommended that the committee be formed as early as the second semester of graduate study. In no case can the committee be formed later than the term before the preliminary oral examination.

Credits

A minimum of 72 graduate credits must be earned for a Ph.D. degree. At least 36 graduate credits, including all dissertation research credits, must be earned at Iowa State University. There is no specific university requirement regarding the number of credits to be taken inside or outside the major/program.

Transfer Credits

At the discretion of the POS committee, and with the approval of the program and the Graduate College, graduate credits earned as a graduate student at another institution or through a distance education program offered by another institution may be transferred if the grade was B or better. Such courses must have been acceptable toward an advanced degree at that institution and must have been taught by individuals having graduate faculty status at that institution. If a student wishes to transfer credits from graduate courses taken at or through another university as an undergraduate student, it is that student’s responsibility to provide verification by letter from that institution that those graduate courses were not taken to satisfy undergraduate requirements for a degree.

A transcript must accompany the POS in order to transfer credits. The POS committee may ask for other materials, such as a course outline or accreditation of the institution, to evaluate the course. Transfer courses not completed when the POS is submitted must be completed before the term in which the student graduates. A transcript must then be submitted for review and final approval.

Research credits earned at another institution are generally not transferred. In rare circumstances, the transfer of S or P marks may be accepted for research credits only. It is the responsibility of the POS committee to obtain a letter from the responsible faculty member at the other institution stating that research credits recommended for transfer with S or P marks are considered to be worthy of a B grade or better.

Major

A major is the area of study or academic concentration in which a student chooses to qualify for the award of a graduate degree. Majors are listed at the end of this section of the bulletin. Opportunities also exist for majoring in more than one area of study (co-major or joint major programs).

Minor

Students may request a minor in any program approved to grant a graduate degree and in programs approved to offer only a minor. Requirements for declared minors are determined by the minor program and the faculty member representing the minor field on the student’s POS committee. The minor subject area must be tested at the preliminary oral and final oral examinations. A minor cannot be added to a program of study after the preliminary oral examination has been taken, nor can a minor be placed on the transcript after graduation, unless it was approved on the program of study, listed on all examination reports, and recorded on the “Application for Graduation” form (diploma slip). A student may not minor and major in the same field. A minor cannot be added to a degree that has already been awarded.

Time Limits

A student beginning a Ph.D. degree program at Iowa State with a master’s degree from another institution is expected to complete the Ph.D. within five years, while a student beginning a Ph.D. degree program without the master’s degree is expected to complete the program within seven years. If warranted, the Program of Study (POS) Committee may request by letter that the Dean of the Graduate College extend these time limits. Cases in which the student leaves Iowa State during his or her graduate career and later returns are dealt with individually by the student’s program of study committee and the Graduate College. The inclusion in the program of study of coursework that is beyond the time limits (“over-age” courses) must be justified by the POS committee in a statement accompanying the submission of the program of study.

Preliminary Examination

The Graduate College requires a preliminary oral examination of Ph.D. degree students; most programs add a written portion to the preliminary oral examination. The Ph.D. degree preliminary oral examination rigorously tests a graduate student’s knowledge of major, minor, and supporting subject areas as well as the student’s ability to analyze, organize, and present subject matter relevant to the field. A “Request for Preliminary Examination” form must be submitted to the Graduate College by the major professor at least two weeks before the proposed date of the examination.

The following conditions should be met before the “Request for Preliminary Examination” form is submitted to the Graduate College: admitted to full admission status in a Ph.D. granting program, approved “Recommendation for Committee Appointment” form, approved POS form, English requirement met, not on probation, time limit not exceeded, qualifying examination (if required by program) passed, and registration for at least the equivalent of 2 credits, or for the R-credit course if no course work is needed, during the term in which the preliminary oral examination is taken. (Taking only an R-credit course where the fee is not equivalent to the 2-credit minimum charge is not acceptable for the term of the preliminary oral examination.)

A preliminary oral examination will not be scheduled for a student on provisional or restricted admission or on academic probation. Upon successful completion of the preliminary oral examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. If the graduate student fails all or part of the preliminary oral examination, the committee provides two options: gives a not pass and allows the student to retake the examination after six months or gives a not pass and does not allow the student to retake the examination. Six months must elapse between the first attempt and the next. The entire POS committee must be convened for the preliminary oral examination. The preliminary oral examination must be passed at least six months prior to the final oral examination. An exception to the rule is allowed if a request signed by the major professor(s) and the program’s DOGE is approved by the Dean of the Graduate College.

Application for Graduation

Application for graduation should be made by the end of the third week of the semester (fall or spring) in which the student expects to receive the degree, or by the last day of the spring semester if graduation is planned during summer session. To apply for graduation, the student is required to complete an “Application for Graduation” form, available online through the student's AccessPlus system.   Before submitting this form, a student must have submitted and had approved by the Graduate College a “Recommendation for Committee Appointment” form and a “Program of Study” form in the previous semester. Also the student must have been fully admitted to a program and have met the Graduate English requirement. Graduation may be delayed if the “Application for Graduation” filing deadline is not met. If it becomes apparent that a student cannot graduate during the indicated term, he/she can go into AccessPlus and cancel the previously submitted “Application for Graduation” form before the designated deadline. The student must then file a new form for the next planned term of graduation.  Late application.  A student may file a late Application for Graduation during the fourth and fifth weeks of the semester.  Students will be charged a non-refundable $20 late fee for a late application. 

Dissertation

A doctoral dissertation must demonstrate conclusively the ability of the author to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret independent, original, and creative research. It must attempt to describe significant original contributions to the advancement of knowledge and must demonstrate the ability to organize, analyze, and interpret data. In most instances, a dissertation includes a statement of purpose, a review of pertinent literature, a presentation of methodology and results obtained, and a critical interpretation of conclusions in relation to the findings of others. When appropriate, it involves a defense of objectives, design, and analytical procedures. Dissertation research should be worthy of publication and should appear in appropriate professional journals or in book form.

Responsibility for writing and editing of the dissertation rests with the student, under the supervision of the major professor, and not with the Graduate College. The Graduate College does not permit joint authorship of dissertations. It is the responsibility of the major professor to supervise the preparation of preliminary and final drafts of the dissertation, so as to assure the highest level of quality when the student presents the dissertation to the committee for final approval. Copies of the dissertation must be submitted to the POS committee at least two weeks before the final oral examination.

All theses and dissertations will be submitted electronically after the final oral examination is held. Please browse the Graduate College’s web site (http://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/current/thesis/) for new requirements, revised fees, and other pertinent information.

Shortly after the submission of the “Application for Graduation” form, a one-time, nonrefundable thesis fee is billed by the university accounting system. In addition, a graduation fee will be assessed by the Registrar’s Office. This fee is nonrefundable if a student does not cancel his/her graduation by the Graduate College’s cancellation deadline.

Final Oral Examination

The Ph.D. final oral examination, conducted after the dissertation is finished, is oral and often limited to a defense of the dissertation. To receive the degree at the end of a given semester, the student must hold the final oral examination before the final oral examination deadline for the semester.

The candidate is responsible for initiating the “Request for Final Oral Examination” form, which must be submitted to the Graduate College at least three weeks before the examination. This form can be obtained only from the student’s program/department. The entire POS committee must be convened for the final oral examination. For more information on the final oral examination, see the Graduate College Handbook.

Graduate Student Approval Slip for Graduation

Every candidate for an advanced degree is required to complete a “Graduate Student Approval Slip for Graduation” form. It is sent to the major professor or program to give to the student after the “Request for Final Examination” form is received and approved by the Graduate College. Signatures are required by the major program. Final clearance of academic requirements will be made when current term grades have been submitted and evaluated by the Graduate College.

All incompletes from previous terms must be completed by the deadline for completion of the Graduate Student Approval Slip. An incomplete, non-report, or grades lower than a C that a student receives for the term of graduation will result in removal from that term’s graduation list. The student will need to complete a new Application for Graduation and Graduate Student Approval Slip for the new term of graduation. If a conditional pass was recommended at the final oral examination, the major professor and the committee members, if so specified, must notify the Graduate College in writing no later than the due date for the Graduate Student Approval Slip for the term of graduation that the conditions have been met.